In the spirit of supporting our Veterans and communities — and with a little creativity — volunteers for the Royal Canadian Legion have found ways to continue helping. From virtual meetings to providing food and medical supplies, Legion Branches are going all out to make things happen.
Buddy Check Coffee meetings across the country give Veterans the chance to meet for coffee and socialize in a supportive setting. Some locations have moved their meetings online.
“Given social distancing and isolation, we knew that connections would be more important than ever and started work on finding a solution, thus Virtual Buddy Check Coffee was born,” says Chris Richardson, Co-Founder of Buddy Check Coffee. “So far, it’s been fantastic, we get to talk about what’s happening, how we’re doing, stories from service. Some folks drop by for a few minutes and others hang out for an entire hour. We have been able to connect, share concerns, and also lighten the day.”
In Brampton, ON, 20-year Army Veteran Chris Banks and his local Branch Service Officer decided to call up the list of Veterans they normally serve and see how things were going. “Every single Veteran said ‘don’t worry about me, help the next person,’” says Banks. Knowing they likely did need help, the duo persisted and have delivered supplies like perishables and dry goods.
Some people have left thank you cards and money, but there is no charge. One way or the other we were going to do this.Toni McKelvie, Branch President
Members of the Fonthill Legion south of Hamilton, ON, have also been busy creating heat-and-serve meals for seniors. Meatloaf, roast beef, cabbage rolls, pasta, pierogi — a different meal every day. The menu is vast and the demand is great. Volunteers have delivered hundreds of meals.
Perth Legion food delivery (Photos courtesy Royal Canadian Legion)
“You go to do deliveries and people are crying because they’re so scared and worried,” says Branch President Toni McKelvie, who’s spending a lot of time in the kitchen and enjoying every minute of it. Five volunteers are making it happen: one delivering packages to doorsteps and the others cooking.
“Some people have left thank you cards and money, but there is no charge,” says McKelvie. “One way or the other we were going to do this,” she adds emphatically.
In Saskatchewan, a Veteran who had just gotten back on his feet ended up out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Legion volunteers answered his call for help, providing grocery cards and food. “We will most likely cover his rent until he gets things squared away with Employment Insurance,” explains Chad Wagner, Executive Director of Saskatchewan Command.
In Placentia, NL, a local Branch member is spending extra time in the kitchen. “She stays at home baking, then does up gift packages and leaves them on people’s doorsteps,” says fellow member Ian Walsh. “Out of hardship comes goodness.”
Veterans who might normally have walked into a Branch can still get help online. Visit the Royal Canadian Legion for contact information, and visit their COVID-19 page for more information.